One of my good friends is a stay-at-home mom, one of the few that I know. Sometimes I look at her life and say, “man she is lucky!” Who wouldn’t want to stay at home with the kids and not have to go to work? To not have a boss, but be the boss? Not only that, but I envy her ability to spend time with her children. I sometimes work long hours, and my commute one way is 45 minutes. I am gone usually from 7:30am until 6:00pm every day, and that is on a normal day. Now I shouldn’t complain too much because my job is cushy and I do have opportunities to work from home every now and then, but still. If I could, I would totally take not having a boss.
Sometimes I will admit that working so much makes me feel guilty. I feel like I am missing out on things that are meaningful. It was like when my daughter first called me mom, which just happened a few days ago. I had always been Mommy. It hit me like a truck, oh my gosh she’s growing up! It was a horrible, sickening feeling that left me near weepy. Where have I been? What have I been doing that I somehow missed this sudden growth? She is only two, not even two and a half yet and she called me mom. Given it was just one time, but that one time made my happy, albeit naive, bubble that she would always remain mommy’s little girl forever pop like a balloon.
This feeling then turned into a vicious, angry, jealous green monster towards my fiancé who gets to spend these precious moments with her. I may have momentarily let that jealousy get the best of me as I shot ill-concealed looks of fury in his general direction, a look so intense even his usually-broken-angry-female-radar was able to pick it up easily. He spent the next 30 minutes keeping as far away from me as he pondered what he could have possibly forgotten to raise my ire. If I hadn’t been so emotionally distraught, I probably would have laughed.
Once again, my thoughts go back to my friend who stays at home with her two daughters, teaching them about the world. The image that blooms into my mind is like some glorified suburbia show from our parents era where everyone got along; images of me cooking dinner with my perfectly behaved daughter, or even the two of us sitting outside in the sun counting the clouds. I swear it was like a slideshow of those T.V. commercials of the perfect families where a child spills something, and mom runs over with a handy paper towel that soaks it all up in one swoop. That last image was the one that broke the angry staring contest with my fiancé. With that last image, I remembered something very important. Those T.V. commercials, those images of how perfect life would be as a stay-at-home-mom are fake.
Now before you get all angry, please note I am not saying that being a stay-at-home-mom is not perfect, because it could be for someone. Many many people enjoy being a stay at home parent, and I truly applaud them for that. It is nowhere near as easy as it looks, and anyone who chooses to do it earns an awesome sticker in my book. I personally know that I could not do it, at least I wouldn’t choose to.
Some of you may think that makes me a bad parent, choosing to work instead of staying home with my daughter. Be that as it may, it is true. I am the type of person that is always striving for more. Not necessarily in others, but in myself. I thrive on setting goals, and completing them to the best of my ability. I take immense pride in my work and in my achievements that I actually begin feeling very uneasy when I am not at work. In fact, I had such an awful pregnancy, I was on bed rest for the latter end of it. During that time, and for four months after she was born I was out of work. I went crazy. I felt so down about myself, and feeling that I wasn’t contributing to our family that it actually made me a little depressed. It was not that I was unhappy to be with my daughter, for I loved every moment of It, and yes that includes the midnight feedings. However I am the type of person that needs to work. I need to be doing something.
Would I lower my hours? Definitely, however that is not exactly an option with my current profession and with the fiancé out of work the financial responsibility falls to me. I would love to take a part time role, or better yet a work from home role, but those jobs are few and far in between.
Even now as my work picks up and my schedule becomes hectic, I know that I like my job, I like my life, and I like what I am doing with it. Just because I am not there as much as a stay-at-home-parent does not make me any less of a parent as I sometimes feel. I am supporting my family, and giving them a wonderful life. I may not know as many of the songs from toddler tunes as a stay-at-home-parent, but I will sing them with my daughter anyways. What makes you a good parent isn’t based on the number of hours, but based on the life you give them, emotionally especially. My daughter knows her mommy loves her, and knows her mommy will devote her time to her when she is home, and that’s what matters to me.
So to all you working parents out there, I applaud you.